What to eat, drink and do while home in state for Thanksgiving 

Last year, so many people across the country missed out on one of the best parts of the holidays: coming home. This year, many of us are relearning the traditions we’ve always held dear while also reconsidering how we spend our time with loved ones when we’re home for the November holiday.

This Thanksgiving, make the most of your time home and check out some of the traditional and not-so-traditional activities Connecticut has to offer!

If you’re a Meriden local like me, you’re probably already planning to hit up Double Play Cafe in Wallingford the night before the Stoddard Bowl game to see old friends. After so many incredible traditions and events were postponed in 2020, it feels amazing to get back to the basics. Attending the game on Thanksgiving day and sharing a meal with family is a given—filling the days that follow is a more puzzling task.  

Why not learn about Connecticut’s rich history through one of the many immersive experiences our state has to offer around this time? The Institute for American Indian Studies in the town of Washington has an award-winning Wigwam Escape room available for booking all throughout the month of November and beyond. Designed to challenge visitors to explore the fascinating culture of Indigenous People, this experience aims to educate and entertain.

Another unique event to look into this Thanksgiving season is hosted by the Stanley-Whitman House in Farmington. “Foodways: Hearth Cooking: Colonial Thanksgiving” is a hands-on experience that explores the settlers' side of history through authentic colonial cooking. Led by a historian with a background in colonial cuisine, this experience is one straight out of a history book that allows guests to participate in the kitchen action or to enjoy as a viewer. These experiences and others around the state remind us of the origins of Thanksgiving as we know it today.

Let someone else do the cooking! Visit Middlefield’s Fire at the Ridge for a meal with a glorious autumn mountain backdrop at their Thanksgiving Dinner Mountainside event or check out something more casual like “Friendsgiving” at Connecticut Valley Brewing Co. in South Windsor. Even if you’re already set to enjoy a meal at home, who says you can’t indulge in turkey, potatoes, and pumpkin pie multiple times? This time of year is for indulgence!   

Then of course, there are those who are dutifully dedicated to working off the calories of what I think of as one of the “eating holidays”—for these people (that I could never relate to) I’d recommend checking out the upcoming 5k runs in the area. Those closest to central Connecticut include the 7th Annual Run Turkey Run 5K in Hamden and the 9th Annual Rotary Club of Orange 5K Turkey Trot & Fun Walk, so make sure to look into those for an experience that’s in our area!

With so many amazing opportunities for fun coming up, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Whatever activities you choose to fill up your holiday time with, make sure you enjoy them safely and with an open mind as everyone navigates a new era of local exploration and discovery. 

Francesca Fontánez is a Meriden-based journalist, educator, and creative. A graduate of both the University of New Haven and the University of Bridgeport, she is happy to be back in Meriden writing about the city she loves. When she's not helping out in the English department at Maloney High School, she's either exploring the Eastern seaboard for her lifestyle blog (@ eastsidevibes on Instagram) or working on music for her band, Cessa and The Zach. Email Francesca at eastsidevibeswithcess@gmail.com with tips on what you want to read about next, or just to say hi!

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